Daniel Hillel helped change the way farmers in the Middle East water their crops. Now the rest of the world is catching on.

Decades ago, the Israeli-American scientist helped develop and spread an idea called micro-irrigation agriculture. Rather than flooding the land at infrequent intervals, crops are exposed to small amounts of water in frequent or continuous doses. The result: much more efficient use of a tight water supply in arid climates.

The breakthrough—for which Dr. Hillel was awarded the 2012 World Food Prize—took root throughout the Mideast and parts of Africa. But it's seeing higher usage these days as more countries, from the U.S. to India to Mexico, face devastating droughts, many scientists say, because of climate change and vast population growth.

Not only are growing numbers of places adopting these methods, but they're doing new and inventive things with them, such as using new types of tubing that can more easily get water into the soil.

For more, see: Drip, Drip, Drip